We Rest To Work
Mark 6.30-31 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told Him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
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Last week, I shared about how Jesus “reset” the scene of humanity when He paid the ultimate price for our sins and thereby restoring our relationship with the Father.
As I thought about all of the things that a reset ushers into our lives during challenging times like this, I began to think about how important rest is to our reset and re-engaging with all of the people and things that fill our lives. More often than not, it’s in our rest that we find our reset.
Years ago, I began to notice a vast difference between my ‘tired self’ and my ‘rested self’ — in how I behaved, how I performed, and even how I loved. I knew then that something had to change.
I became so used to operating “tired” as my default state and that was usually somewhere around 70-80% of my best self. That became my normal as I bought into the lies that rest and sleep were enemies to my success. “There’s plenty of time to rest in the grave” I often said to myself.
But then I began to notice myself after breaks, vacations, or even just some downtime, how I performed at a100% rested state. I noticed how alert and attuned I was. I noticed how much more graceful, understanding, and loving I felt and was able to share. I woke up to the potential for my impact when I operated from a state of rest instead of weariness.
Sometimes we call this the “Sabbath principle,” which is God’s design for rest as observed from the Sabbath day in the beginning of creation and from His commandments. And when I started taking the Sabbath seriously, my productivity saw gain after gain. I also observed that rest was not just a spiritual principle, but it is also a principle in the Earth [a natural law, regardless of what you believe]. Even the land itself actually needs a Sabbath as history bears witness to the consequences of overfarming.
From that time on, I was no longer comfortable or okay with neglecting or shortchanging my rest, physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Though I didn’t fully and immediately understand what rest looked like in all of those forms, or how they interrelated, or even what I needed and when — I began taking steps to prioritize my rest. “We rest in order to work,” my spiritual father taught us.
Jesus understood and modeled a regimen of rest [Mark 6.30-31]. He understood that rest was not only God’s design but reconnects us to our Source and purpose. It postures us for readiness [and intimacy with Him].
When you’re not 100%, you can’t give the best of you because the best of you is not available.
And everybody has to settle for less of you — less than your best. But that’s not good enough. We rest in order to work. And in that order.
I explained it like this one time: If your well runs dry, you can’t give anyone a drink. Rest enables us to be available [as God expects] for the needs of others. Sometimes we look for rest as if it will just happen to us (I sure did), but rather, we must intentionally make time. We have to prioritize rest like we prioritize the most precious things to us.
The world lives at such a fast pace and thus we inevitably live busy lives. There are times and situations where shortchanging our rest is not always or easily avoidable because we must grind to accomplish the work at hand. But this is a season, not a lifestyle. There will be seasons of sprinting but we don’t sprint forever. And even in a season of sprinting, we can find a posture and regimen of rest at some level — even if it’s not our ideal scenario.
I realized I needed a change because resting is also great stewardship. Rest is the stewardship of our bodies, minds, and souls, and it bears fruit in our relationships and impact during our time here. The Creator of all things instituted a period and regimen of rest into our make-up and world. We shouldn’t so easily dismiss this because rest is part of God’s plan.
It became so much easier for me to develop a regimen of resting when I stopped treating it as a chore or a weakness and began to embrace it as an act of stewardship, and to a certain degree, worship.
Rest allows us to be available to the voice and the purposes of God. Good rest is not a cop-out or being lazy, it’s staging for the next step. We rest in order to work.
“Those who are caught up in the busy life have neither the time nor quiet to come to understand themselves and their goals. Since the opportunity for inward attention hardly ever comes, many people have not heard from themselves for a long, long time.” — Richard Swenson, Margin
When we’re not rested, we are not available, and thus impactful to the degree that we could or should be when the need or opportunity demands. Rest can take many forms for different people and situations but being on-the-go and busy-minded all of the time is not it.
The truth is, God will always get the Sabbath (a rest) from us somehow — be it voluntarily (making time, slowing down, being still), or involuntarily (sickness, hospitalization, or worse).
If nothing else, this quarantine, for many of us, has provided a unique opportunity to be still, and rest.
So rest, my friends. Your life will thank you later.